In our Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from the European and British talent pool. In this week’s edition, it’s FC Basel striker Breel Embolo.
Described as a new Didier Drogba, 6ft Breel-Donald Embolo, who was born on Valantine’s Day 1997, has a vast amount of admirers from the footballing world and has been labelled as one of the most exciting talents in Europe.
The Cameroon-born striker started his career at a young age in Switzerland, representing Nordstern and Old Boys prior to joining the youth system of Swiss giants Basel at just 13. During his development, he was much admired for his talents, earning FCB’s Youngster of the Year award in 2013. During his two seasons with the Under-16s, he was a part of the squads that lifted the year group’s Swiss Championship title in back-to-back seasons.
A year later, Embolo made his first senior appearance for the club as a 90th-minute substitute in the Europa League. He didn’t have to wait much longer for his first league appearance, as just three days later he once came on as a substitute late on in a game against Aarau. Although only on the pitch for a short period of time, he wasted little time to announce himself, scoring Basel’s fifth and final goal just four minutes after his arrival on the pitch.
Last season was Embolo’s real breakthrough season, however, with the striker making 39 appearances for the Swiss side, scoring 16 goals in all competitions, which earned him the accolade of the Swiss Super League Rookie of the year.
He will be remembered from last season’s Champions League group stage tie against Liverpool, when the then-17-year-old had to take time off school to play in his side’s clash at Anfield. For that game, over 20 scouts for clubs across Europe gathered to have a closer look at the striker. Prior to that tie, Embolo had also become the sixth youngest goalscorer in the Champions League, finding the net against Ludogorets in a 4-0 victory for Basel. Carrying on where he left off, Embolo has made 17 appearances for Basel this season, hitting the net eight times.
Internationally, Embolo made his senior debut for Switzerland, after turning down the chance to represent Cameroon, in March 2015, when he came off the bench in a 1-1 draw against USA/ Seven months later, he got on the scoresheet for his country for the first time, scoring a penalty in the 7-0 rout over San Marino. Prior to his promotion to the main squad, he represented the Under-16, Under-20 and Under-21 squads, making 11 appearances throughout the rise, scoring one.
What the experts say
Former Basel coach Paulo Souza: “I love everything about him.”
Basel midfielder Luca Zuffi: “A super-striker. He makes progress continuously. He’s a very good replacement for Marco Streller now and it’s incredible what he has at 17 years old.”
Former Basel captain and defender Fabian Frei: “I think he’s a sensation, with such power at 17…[jokingly] if he is really 17 years old.”
Where does the future lie?
Arsenal and Tottenham appear to be setting up for a battle to secure his signature according to reports, with the north London rivals hoping to pip each other for the Swiss youngster.
Manchester United also have an interest in the forward, with their chief scout watching Embolo during a Europa League game against Fiorentina back in November, according to Swiss press.
Naturally, he is also attracting interest from European giants such as Bayern, Barcelona and Dortmund.
If he is to head anywhere, however, the buying club will have to spend big, with reports recently claiming that German side Wolfsburg have seen an £18million bid turned down by Basel, with a £21million price tag attached to their top talent.
By Daniel Roberts, @djroberts22